Black Lightning Recap 1.5: Fighting Crime Takes A Physical Toll

by Gary Catig

Gambi has developed some new tech for Black Lightning, so he’s out on the streets to test it out. Now he can direct his electrical energy to allow him to fly. As he’s patrolling the city, he sees a kid doped up on Green Light, the new drug from last week, being arrested. Since the kid is uncontrollable with super strength, the police fire upon him.  Jefferson stops the bullets in time and subdues the individual. He also advises the cops to use their tasers first before resorting to deadly force. After the incident, Jefferson begins experiencing migraines.
[*Spoilers for 1.5 Ahead!]
Afterwards as his civilian alter ego, Jefferson encounters a young man with his sick child at the local drug store. The man is complaining about being sold expired medicine and wants a refund. Jefferson tries to convince the cashier to help the man out, but suffers from more migraines. Eventually he purchases new medicine for the man if he promises to pay it forward next time he meets someone in need.
In last week’s episode, Black Lightning found a packing slip while staking out a Green Light warehouse. Gambi traces the packing slip to a storage area where Jefferson investigates, hoping to uncover a new lead. While there, he finds a garage filled with chemicals to synthesize the new street drug and discovers the items belong to Joey Toledo. Toledo is Tobias’ old right-hand man and the superhero begins to question if he really killed his former foe. Later, he confronts Gambi about the true fate of his arch nemesis, but faints in the middle of the argument.
Gambi calls Lynn to check up on her ex-husband. They discuss how Jefferson has not had problems before, but his new hover function could be over exerting his powers.  Until the neuroscience expert can determine what’s causing his condition, Jefferson has to take things easy and stop crimefighting. Since he’s sidelined, Black Lightning approaches Inspector Henderson with his lead on Toledo. The detective is willing to follow up since he too wants the Green Light epidemic stopped.
Henderson tracks down Toledo through a girlfriend and relays the information back to vigilante. With his only lead back to Tobias, Black Lightning disregards his wife’s and Gambi’s concerns and pursues the criminal. Initially he has little trouble dispatching Toledo, but his migraines return while he’s interrogating the suspect and Toledo is able to fight him off and escape.

Meanwhile, the heat is on Tobias to take care of his Black Lightning situation. He’s still perplexed about the identity of his adversary so he pays Gambi a visit at his tailor shop for a very audience enlightening experience. It seems these two have a history and an agreement that Tobias was supposed to disappear from the public eye and leave the tailor alone after his clash with Jefferson nine years ago. However, these are desperate times for the crime boss and he’s hoping to take advantage of Gambi’s intelligence background with an organization called the ASA. Gambi doesn’t reveal anything about his friend, but we do learn that Tobias was given a serum to keep him looking young, but it has unfortunate side effects.
Afterwards, Tobias informs his sister, Tori, about his meeting with Gambi. She feels Lady Eve and her cartel will not be pleased since he broke the deal discussed earlier.  Her brother is acting too recklessly in his dogged pursuit of his rival. He responds that he’s the biggest money earner, and as head of The 100, he deserves seat at the table with the leadership.
The siblings come to the conclusion that Tobias’ obsession with Black Lightning was because he never resolved his issues with his first nemesis, their father, Eldridge. We then see a flashback to when the two were kids and see their relationship with their abusive father. Their dad is frustrated by the accumulation of medical bills to deal with Tobias’ health and the fact his son is an albino. When they confront Eldridge, he reminds them he was the parent that stayed to raise, feed, and clothe them. Tobias admits that he couldn’t when he was young, but now he appreciates that fact.
He offers an olive branch in the form of a hug. As the two embrace, Tobias begins to question his dad’s motivations growing up. Did he only take care of them to torture them? To blame them for his failures? Or to get the money from the state? He wasn’t going to let his father off the hook, but instead of killing him outright, Tobias breaks Eldridge’s back to ensure he experiences and slow and painful death.
When he returns to his hideout, he receives a warning from Lady Eve in the form of bone dust. A call back to an anecdote Lady Eve shared about the supposed magical qualities of ground up albino bones from a previous episode. Along with the dust is a note that has Tobias concerned.
Anissa is performing some investigative work of her own as she researches the source of her super powers. She comes upon a conspiracy theorist video channel where she learns of kids with advanced abilities who disappeared. The kids gained their powers through a vaccine and coincidentally, her very own grandfather was the man who wrote an exposé that detailed the events. Unfortunately, it was this series of articles that lead to her grandfather’s murder.
Wanting first-hand information, Anissa approaches her dad and the editor for the Freeland Gazette about information on her grandfather. She is unsuccessful, though, as neither are willing to talk about the subject too much. Not one to easily give up, she returns to the local newspaper, but is surprised when the editor has all the old files pertaining to the missing kids and vaccine. He gives them to her along with some words of warning. The same people who killed her grandfather are watching and if she doesn’t give up now, she might suffer his same demise.
Amongst all the files she has received, Anissa discovers a key to a storage garage.  Before following up on this lead, she at least heeds the warning and decides to disguise herself in an actual superhero uniform. She tried using her cosplay from the party with Grace, but it easily rips while she’s practicing her martial arts. We are then treated to a montage as she works with a sales associate to find a perfect and practical costume.
Dressed up, she visits the storage garage and finds even more files pertaining to her case. More importantly, inside a safe is a mystery vial. Could this be a sample of the vaccines used on those kids so many years back?
This was quite an informative episode as we learn more about the background of some of these characters. It’s interesting to see all the uneasy alliances made between everyone. Tobias and Gambi have their own agreement, the specifics we aren’t privy to, but it could explain why Gambi erased the footage of the crime lord at the protest shooting. There is also the collaboration between Black Lightning and Inspector Henderson. Although Henderson is willing to decry the vigilante justice of the superhero, he also sees the utility in working with him. Black Lightning can do the things Henderson can’t due to police bureaucracy red tape.
It’s also interesting to finally receive answers about how Tobias and the Pierce family are related. The grandfather’s articles on the enhanced children lead to his murder by Tobias. Are the contents of the vaccine the same as the serum the crime boss received to retain his youth? As we come back to present day, are Lady Eve and her cartel, the same people watching Anissa as she explores the source of her powers?  Was the note Tobias received from Lady Eve related to Anissa reopening the Pierce family investigation? These are all questions raised by this episode I am anxious to find out in the later episodes.
Finally, I like the parallel the episode showed between Jefferson and Tobias as each pursues the other. Both are so determined to take down the other that they dive head first, recklessly in their search. Jefferson risks his own health as he is coping with migraines while Tobias is willing to risk his reputation in the criminal underworld by breaking his agreement with Gambi. Also, I always enjoy a good hero origin story and it’s fun to watch Anissa develop and follow in her dad’s footsteps. We’ve watched her control her powers, obtain her costume and even reality check herself in the storage garage where she tells herself a real hero won’t be afraid of a dead rat.
Black Lightning airs Tuesday nights at 9:00 pm on the CW.

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